Washington, DC, March 5, 2011 – “This decision is a victory for all residents of Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and those that depend on the land for Jobs” is how Hunter McIntosh, Chief Operating Officer with The Boat Company viewed the decision in Organized Village of Kake et al. v US Forest Service.. Friday morning US District Judge John W. Sedwick reinstated the roadless rule in the Tongass, finding the exemption was arbitrary and capricious.
The decision restores protection for 2.3 million acres of wild lands, which were not otherwise protected, giving the Tongass the same protection as America’s other national forests.
The Boat Company was the only nature-based tour operator involved in the case, and along with the other litigants sought to end the Bush administration’s decision that exempted the Tongass from the Clinton-era Roadless Rule. This decision protects unroaded wild lands all over the Tongass, which are critical for subsistence use, recreation, fishing, and hunting for everyone who benefits from this forest’s remaining areas of intact old growth.
“Not one worker will be put out of a job by the judge’s decision, because presently no on-going timber sales or contracted timer is in roadless areas. And the Forest Service has already said it thinks it can transition away from old growth logging without going into any more roadless areas,” McIntosh said. “On the flip-side, there are more than 3,200 recreation and tourism jobs in Southeast Alaska, and 3,800 more in the seafood industry who depend on upland salmon habitat in the Tongass. This court order ending the unwise exemption of the Tongass from the Roadless Rule is good news for every one of them” McIntosh continued.
In his findings, Judge Sedwick specifically found no support for any of the defendant’s claims that the Roadless Rule could hurt local communities or jobs.